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With the current popularity of Formula 1 in the US, fueled in part by the hit Nexflix show Drive To Survive, it would be easy for Aston Martin to slap F1 badges onto a road-going Vantage and call it a special trim. But there’s way more to the 2021 Vantage F1 Edition than meets the eye.
While this model definitely stands out over the base coupe with its racy bodywork and matte paint job, Aston also upgraded the engine, suspension, and transmission to make it feel sharper. After some time behind the wheel, it’s obvious that this car is worthy of its performance badging and its $162,000 price tag.
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Gallery: 2021 Aston Martin Vantage F1 Edition: Review
- Exterior Color: Aston Martin Racing Green Satin
- Interior Color: Phantom Gray/Lime Green
- Wheel Diameter: 21-inch
The Aston Martin Vantage is a handsome vehicle, with an athletic stance and crisp angles that give it archetypical sports car proportions. Signature Aston design elements ensure that it doesn’t look overly generic, too. Other editors have criticized the Vantage’s “mesh mouth” grille – and that’s understandable. But visual tweaks to the F1 Edition help alleviate most of those gaping front-end qualities.
Horizontal strakes lessen the impact of the Vantage’s black hole–like front fascia, while the removal of the protruding grille surround results in a cleaner, simpler front end. The ridiculous 20-spoke, 21-inch wheels are exclusive to this model too – and might be the best of the Vantage bunch – while “F1 Edition” badges dot the exterior and a daunting wing lives on the trunk lid. And if you can get the car up to its 195 mile-per-hour top speed, that wing adds an extra 440 pounds of downforce.
The lovely Aston Martin Racing Green paint is an F1 special, available in both gloss and satin finishes, paired with dark grey accents that stretch all the way from the hood to the trunk lid. Our tester – with the latter satin finish – looked absolutely stunning in any light. But you can also get this model in Lunar White and Jet Black if you’re feeling a bit boring.
The basic layout doesn’t stray far from the general Vantage formula, which includes crystalized buttons for the shifter and twin air vents beneath an 8.0-inch screen. But at least this Aston gains a few features exclusive to F1 model, like additional Alcantara upholstery on the center console and door panels, new sport bucket seats with a neon central stripe, and neon-colored contrast stitching throughout. All of it helps the cabin feel more premium.
- Seating Capacity: 2
- Cargo Capacity: 7.1 Cubic Feet
The bucket seats in this car are sublime. They follow the contours of your body like a glove, and the mix of leather and extra Alcantara is a cozy combo that feels extra soft and of the highest quality. Adding Alcantara to the center console and door panels is a nice touch too, making for for a comfy place to rest your elbows.
But as with many high-end sports cars, the Vantage has its drawbacks in the comfort department. This car is loud on the highway, with the rear wing giving off more wind noise, and because the rear springs are 10 percent stiffer than on the standard Vantage, the F1 Edition is harsher around town than a comparable Porsche 911.
That said, the Vantage isn’t as back-breaking as you might think in the softest “Sport” setting; the ride is pliable over imperfect pavement. Sport Plus and Track modes change that, stiffening up to reduce roll, but even with ultra-thin Pirelli P Zero tires (255/35 ZR21 front and 295/30 ZR21 rear), the Vantage is a fine daily driver.
- Center Display: 8.0 Inches
- Wireless Apple CarPlay / Android Auto: No
This is the one area where the Vantage falls short. Aston uses a comparably tiny 8.0-inch display running an outdated version of the Mercedes-Benz COMAND infotainment system with poorly reskinned graphics – and it doesn’t even offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. At least the clickwheel controller makes everything easy to navigate, considering the screen itself isn’t touch-capable. But that’s a small consolidation for an otherwise small display and an outdated interface.
By comparison, the Porsche 911 Turbo offers a handsome 10.9-inch touchscreen display with gorgeous graphics and a concise setup. The Audi R8 does away with a central screen entirely, for example, opting for a streamlined layout entirely within the digital cluster that we much prefer. The Vantage’s digital cluster is basic only offers a bit of configuration. The Vantage isn’t class-competitive here.
Our tester also comes equipped with Aston Martin Premium speakers, which boosts the overall audio experience. But it’s a lofty $2,000 on its own compared to some other upgraded audio systems we’ve experienced that aren’t as individually pricey. The Audi R8’s Bang & Olufsen sound system, for example, outputs a better sound.
- Engine: Twin-Turbocharged 4.0-Liter V8
- Output: 528 Horsepower / 503 Pound-Feet
- Transmission: Eight-Speed Automatic
Unlike some other styling packages, the F1 Edition offers more than just good looks. Powering this model is a reworked version of the Vantage’s Mercedes-AMG twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. The output improves from 503 horsepower in the standard model to 528 here, while torque stays put at 505 pound-feet.
The eight-speed automatic transmission from the standard Vantage carries over, albeit with some slight re-tuning for quicker shifts, and the suspension gets minor stiffening to help cope with that extra oomph. The rear spring rate is 10 percent more rigid, and tweaks to the front control arms add additional negative camber.
The F1 Edition’s 60 time remains unchanged at 3.6 seconds compared to the standard Vantage, while the top speed also keeps at 195 miles per hour – which is impressive given all that extra aero. Although we didn’t spend any time with the Vantage F1 Edition on the track, in the corners is where this model distinguishes itself from the standard version.
The stiffer springs and newfound negative camber make this Vantage feel much tighter. And the upgraded electronic limited-slip differential yields better control in the corners, which gives this car its additional gusto. Diving into a turn feels more precise, too, thanks to the tighter and quicker steering with better on-center compliance. And with the $10,600 carbon ceramic brakes equipped, although they are a bit trickier to modulate around town, this Vantage stops as well as it goes. All in all, flinging around the Vantage F1 Edition is a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
- Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level 0
- NHTSA Rating: Not Rated
- IIHS Rating: Not Rated
In the world of Aston Martin, collision avoidance features are a concept of the distant future. Neither the standard Vantage nor the Vantage F1 Edition tested here offer any sort of active equipment – ironic for a car that does safety duty at races all over the world.
If you’re buying a Vantage, we understand that active safety probably isn’t a priority on your shopping list. But if you look at the competition – Audi R8 and Porsche 911 in particular – those two cars offer an entire suite of advanced features.
- City: 18 MPG
- Highway: 24 MPG
- Combined: 20 MPG
Believe it or not, Aston’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 is surprisingly fuel-efficient – at least, compared to some of the other cars in this class. Achieving 18 miles per gallon city, 24 highway, and 20 combined, the Vantage beats the V10-powered Audi R8 (16 combined) and Porsche 911 Turbo S (17 combined). Predictably, premium fuel is required in each of those vehicles.
- Base Price: $142,000 + $3,086 Destination
- Trim Base Price: $165,086
- As-Tested Price: $177,686
The Aston Martin Vantage is actually pretty affordable when you look at the competition, asking just $142,000 to start (plus a steep $3,086 worth of destination fees). The Audi R8 V10 RWD costs $148,700 by comparison, while the outgoing McLaren 570S and Porsche 911 Turbo S ask $191,500 and $207,000, respectively.
The F1 Edition is pricier, of course, but it still only costs $165,086. The R8 V10 Performance with Quattro all-wheel drive is $201,295, and of course, the McLaren and Porsche are pricier still.
With two lone options equipped, this car costs $177,686 as-tested. The carbon-ceramic brakes are the most expensive add-on at $10,600, while the premium audio system is another $2,000 on top of that. Still, though, $177,000 feels like a relative bargain for all that you get.
Sure, the Aston Martin F1 Edition may not be as powerful or as technological as some of the other cars in this class – but it is way prettier. And when you combine those drop-dead-gorgeous good looks with tweaks to the engine and transmission, there’s plenty of reason to consider this Vantage over some of the more obvious alternatives.
Vantage Competitor Reviews:
- Audi R8: Not Rated
- Porsche 911 Turbo/Turbo S: 9.6 / 10
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